Forget India... call centres are moving to Bulgaria

British firms look to outsource closer to home

The next time you pick up the phone to pay a bill, book a holiday or reserve some tickets, it's possible that you won't be speaking to an office in Cardiff or Sunderland or even Bangalore - but to someone at one of an increasing number of call centres in Bulgaria.

British firms such as Thomas Cook, eBay, Sky, Seatwave and Zumba Fitness have all outsourced aspects of their customer services to Bulgaria. Such deals have led some to suggest that India may finally be quietly losing its crown as the call-centre capital of the world.

British businessman Jonathan Gladwish 's firm, 60K, is one of the half a dozen or so outsourcing firms attracting companies to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, where it handles more than 3,000 British customers a day.

“When we set up in 2008, Bulgaria was virgin territory with an ageing telecoms infrastructure and practically no outsourcing,” said Mr Gladwish, who employs 650 staff speaking 27 languages.

“That's all changed. During that period I've come to realise how well educated the young people are here - something like 93 per cent of my staff are graduates or postgraduates who want to work for me for two, three or even four years before moving on.”

Mr Gladwish, whose customers include Sky Broadband, saves 40 to 50 per cent by basing his operation in eastern Europe. He contrasts the situation in Bulgaria with that in the UK, where working in a call centre is often a seen as little but a “stopgap” for graduates.

Call centres are moving away from India Call centres are moving away from India Lidiya Hadzhieva, 24, is typical of the workers in Bulgaria's call centres.

She studied abroad and graduated from an Austrian university last year with a degree in political science and speaks German, English and, of course, Bulgarian.

“My first intention was to stay and work in Austria,” she said. “But I knew outsourcing was growing in Bulgaria and the profile employers are looking for is young people like me with language skills. It was natural for me to look for a job here.”

Bulgaria is still the EU's poorest state, and student groups have occupied the country's biggest university in recent weeks amid anti-government unrest over poverty and corruption.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'